Cybercrime surges amid coronavirus pandemic

Since the outbreak of coronavirus, many people have been confined to their homes as governments tightens measures to curb further spread of Covid-19.

Staying at home means there is more time to spend online, while many others rely on the internet to work or access different services online.

This is perhaps what has increased the danger of cybercrime with fraudsters using the opportunity to defraud their unsuspecting victims using online platforms.

According to Interpol Global Cybercrime, Covid-19 scam includes telephone calls and phishing.

PHISHING

According to the United Nations Inter-regional Crime and Justice Research Institute, phishing has seen a spike.

Phishing is the fraudulent practice of inducing individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers through fake websites or emails.

According to United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), new data gathered by Google and analyzed by Atlas VPN, a virtual private network (VPN) service provider, is shedding more light on the scope of this.

According to the report, in January, Google registered 149,000 active phishing websites. In February, that number nearly doubled to 293,000. In March, though, that number had increased to 522,000 – a 350% increase since January.

According to the report by (UNICRI) Cybercriminals are capitalizing on the anxieties and fears triggered by the pandemic.

In Italy a “Corona anti-virus” software has also been flagged. The application, BlackNet Rat, promises to protect the user’s device from coronavirus, but instead, it breaches the computer’s security and takes control of the computer, effectively enabling the criminal to remotely control it.

CYBER-ATTACK

Another common scam taking place on the web are promises of fake investment opportunities.

Even businesses have also fallen victims to hackers. For example, Cognizant, an information technology service provider, reported that it was hit by a “Maze” ransomware cyber-attack, which is a specific attack involving hackers threatening to release information on the internet if the target company fails to pay.

Children who have been forced to school online are also under threat of file-sharing abuse, inappropriate content, and grooming of children for sexual purposes. These are some of the dangers that parents should be aware of during this time.

UNICRI recommend users to be very vigilant about phishing emails and websites, practice good cyber hygiene, use only trusted wi-fi networks and adopt a password manager to help avoid using the same password for multiple websites.

Also, people are advised to use double channels of communications with counterparts before transferring sensitive data or downloading a file from an email that may contain malware.

This can be done by sending an SMS, a WhatsApp message or making a quick call to make sure that the sender is a colleague or friend. That will save you from cyber-attack.

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